Widmer Brothers Brewing’s Pub served its last pint on Sunday, January 20, 2019 as today the longtime Portland brewery announced that it has shuttered its Pub for good effective today. This decision made by Widmer’s parent company Craft Brew Alliance comes days after it extended CEO Andy Thomas’ employment contract through 2021 as he received a $75,000 signing bonus in doing so.
For the past 22 years Widmer Brothers Brewing has operated this pub in North Portland and has experienced a few changes over the years. A little over one year ago in November 2017, the full-service restaurant closed and the revamped pub opened shortly thereafter. Then the pub began offering a limited food menu a few months back but that too was short lived.
The brewery of course will continue on, as will the Widmer Innovation Brewery. We have been enjoying our visits to the pub as of late, especially the now former $3 Thursday Pint Day. The brew team led by Thomas Bleigh and assisted by Parker Penley and Dan Munch has been producing some of the best beer in the city but without the pub it’ll be an uphill battle to get these beers placed in taprooms and bottle shops in the Rose City.
According to Widmer, “We’re working on canning more small-batch beers made in the innovation brewery, and are hoping to get more of the draft beer from the innovation system into the market at Portland restaurants and bars.” If this is the brewery’s long-term plan for the Innovation Brewery its days may not be long. Best of luck to Widmer’s sales team as they will be competing for shelf and tap handle space with a wide array of breweries that are more popular with today’s evolving beer drinkers.
Unfortunately, the seven of the nine employees at the pub have lost their jobs. These seven have been offered comprehensive severance packages and if these packages are similar to ones offered to the kitchen staff one year ago, Widmer will be offering a fair package especially as it relates to service industry jobs. We hope other local breweries will step up and will be able to hire these seven individuals.
For those of you in possession of Widmer Brothers Brewing Pub gift certificates, these will be able to be redeemed at the brewery’s gift shop that will remain open to the public. The brewery also has stated that it will begin offering revamped brewery tours beginning in February. No word on if dock sales will continue.
Here’s the official statement from Widmer Brothers…
Dear Widmer Brothers Friends and Family,
We are sad to announce that the Widmer Brothers pub will close its doors to the public today. This was a very hard decision to make, especially as we reflect on the pub’s past and plan an exciting future for the brewery, where our team will continue to brew your favorite Widmer Brothers beers.
Unfortunately, despite our best efforts to evolve the pub concept over the years, our pub has experienced profitability challenges. When the pub first opened in 1996, there were only a handful of breweries in the city. Today, there are over 115 breweries in the Portland Metro area. With that increased competition, we have struggled to make the pub financially sustainable.
While the pub closes today, we want to make sure you know that our dedicated team will continue bringing you your favorite Widmer Brothers beers. In fact, we plan to launch new beers in cans this year courtesy of a canning line installed late last year. We’ll also offer a revamped brewery tour debuting at Zwickelmania in mid-February, where you’ll be able to check out the new canning line, and both our production brewery and small-batch innovation brewery. Our retail store will remain open, as well.
This note wouldn’t be complete without thanking our pub customers for 22+ years of support – we wouldn’t have made it this long without you.
We also want to send our sincere thanks to our pub and banquets team for their passion and commitment to Widmer Brothers over the years. With this closure, two of our full-time staff will be staying with us in new roles, and seven employees will be leaving the company. We are providing departing employees with comprehensive severance packages.
Endings are never easy, but we hope you’ll continue to be a fan and enjoy our beers in the future.
D.J. is a Portland, Oregon based writer that spent his formative years in the Midwest. With over 20 years under his belt of drinking beer at festivals across America and the world, he has developed a strong appreciation and understanding of craft beer and the industry that surrounds it. He can be found in any of the great breweries or beer bars that make Portland the best beer city in the world. His writing can also be found in Northwest Brewing News and can be followed on Twitter at @hopapalooza.